New campaign to tackle low awareness of legal advice
The Legal Services Commission of SA has this week launched the We Can Help campaign to highlight the Commission’s legal advice services – which are available free to all South Australians.
Almost every Australian will need legal advice at some time in their life – and yet few will actually seek professional help.
In fact, recent studies show that many Australians can expect to encounter a legal problem in any given year and often their legal needs are likely to be unmet – either because of financial reasons or a lack of knowledge of available support.
Even more alarming are figures released in Canberra this week which show that 50% of people surveyed had experienced a legal problem in the last 12 months*.
This Legal Australia-Wide Survey is the largest of its kind ever undertaken and involved more than 20,000 in-depth interviews. It shows that many people are missing out on professional legal help that could resolve their problems because they don’t know what to do, find it too stressful or can’t afford it.
That’s why the Legal Services Commission of South Australia has launched a new campaign aimed at increasing the awareness of its free legal advice service.
The We Can Help campaign will run throughout press, online and outdoor advertising to highlight the Commission’s legal advice services – which are available free to all South Australians.
“When people think of the Legal Services Commission, they naturally think of legal aid – but that’s just part of the important services we provide in South Australia,” said Gabrielle Canny, Legal Services Commission Director.
“In fact, in the year ended June 2012 we conducted 98,070 free legal advice sessions in our offices and via the Legal Help Line. This figure doesn’t even count the duty solicitor work done in the courts – that's a further service we provide.
“So, although we help over 100,000 South Australians a year regardless of their financial status, we know there are many more who simply don’t know that they can access free professional legal advice and that’s why we’ve launched the We Can Help campaign.”
The campaign promotes an easy-to-remember web address – www.freelegalhelp.sa.gov.au – and a free call number (1300 366 424).
Ms Canny said the Commission’s lawyers were ready to provide free advice on a wide variety of issues ranging from car accidents, criminal, family and civil law matters through to specialist areas such as migration, child support and Centrelink disputes.
“There might be a scenario where you have an argument with a neighbour over a fence, received a court summons or perhaps you’ve separated from your partner and want to know where you stand,” she said.
“Our lawyers can provide professional, free advice over the phone or in person to help steer you in the right direction – and, importantly, that advice can often help solve issues before they escalate or go to court.”
The Legal Services Commission runs the largest legal practice in South Australia, with 40 criminal lawyers, 25 family lawyers who work on cases with in-house grants of legal aid and 42 lawyers in the Access Services Division who provide legal advice and specialist legal education.
Telephone legal advice is available for legal information, advice and referrals. Advice is usually restricted to a client's basic legal rights and obligations about a particular situation. If the problem is too complex or too lengthy for a phone call, the client will be offered a free appointment at a Commission office or referred to other sources of assistance.
Legal Advice Appointments
Free legal advice is available to any person on most legal matters. The role of the legal adviser is to identify the client's problem, to inform the client of their rights and obligations and to help them understand what course(s) of action can be taken. The adviser may also draft letters for clients where appropriate.
For more information, visit www.freelegalhelp.sa.gov.au